Pumpkin Patch(66071)
Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/kams_world/4047724512/sizes/m/in/photostream/

It’s about that time of year to break out the scarecrow, cobwebs, and jack-o-lanterns.  The leaves are changing fast, air is getting brisk, and Halloween is right around the corner.  Most American’s pack up the kids and head out to the pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkin type for carving.

No longer do you just see simply one type of pumpkin at a pumpkin patch. Now when visiting, you will see a variety of different pumpkin types (colors, shapes, and sizes).  Pumpkins are jumping on the heirloom bandwagon and now they aren’t just for carving.  Each heirloom type has its own flavors and should be experimented with in the kitchen.  So, next time you go to the pumpkin patch, look for some of the heirloom pumpkin types and start dreaming of what to you can make out of them.

Before we jump into the heirloom pumpkin types, lets first review carving pumpkins.  These pumpkins are mass-produced for the Halloween season, but do not make great cooking pumpkins.  Usually, we gravitate towards the largest pumpkin with a smooth surface for carving.  One of the issues with larger pumpkins is typically are not as sweet as their smaller counterparts.  When making a pumpkin pie, sweetness is what you are looking for!  

If you are looking for cooking pumpkin types, below are some of the most interesting and popular heirloom pumpkin types:

  1. Long Island Cheese – This pumpkin type is an heirloom variety that was nearly pushed out of the patch by commercial pumpkin farmers.  It is slowly regaining popularity among chefs and a spot on the pumpkin patch.  Its name was derived from its similar appearance to a cheese wheel and geographical birthplace.  Its sweet flavor makes it a great choice for pies or soups! 
  2. Cinderella’s Carriage – These pumpkin types have a great vibrant orange color, glossy surface, and rotund body.  It’s no surprise how its name came about.  Just look at it and you can easily vision Cinderella arriving to the ball.  Utilize this pumpkin in soups and you won’t be disappointed!
  3. Amish Pie – This pumpkin can be quite a sight as its size frequently reaches 70 to 90 pounds!  This pumpkin type was first grown by an Amish farmer located in the mountains of Maryland and is now favored among home gardeners.  It will be fantastic in just about anything you use it for, especially pies.
  4. New England Pie – These pumpkin types are easy to find on the East Coast.  They resemble traditional carving pumpkins, but are much smaller only weighing a few pounds.  While they can be carved, you are best off making traditional pumpkin pie or canned pumpkin with this heirloom type.
  5. Marina Di Chioggia – Who would have guessed Italian’s have pumpkins too!  This favorite heirloom pumpkin type has an unusual blue grey color and its skin is covered in knots.  You certainly will notice it when you walk by.   This one is great in muffins, cakes, and other baked treasures!